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Graham Coxon: The Sky Is Too High (Transcopic, CD/LP). This is the first solo album from Blur's guitarist, whose singing is a less yobbish variation of Damon Albarn's querulous Estuary English. "The instruments are all played by myself and due to my own impatience with recording processes, the songs were bashed out in five days," he says in his press release. "The music ranges from angry and peurile [sic] to depressing and rural." That just about sums it up, although "ranges" is perhaps over-generous, as there isn't really anything in between head-battering punk squallings at one extreme - "Who the Fuck?" is what 1994's "Parklife" would sound like if it had been recorded by today's Blur - and melancholic folky twangs at the other. And although Coxon does indeed play all the instruments, usually that just means that he picks at an acoustic guitar. The wilfully under-arranged demo-tape feel will deter most of Blur's fanbase, but The Sky Is Too High establishes Coxon as a gifted composer in his own right. Now that Alex James has had hits with MeMeMe and Fat Les, you can't help but think of how rich the next Blur album would be if Damon shared out the songwriting duties a bit more evenly.

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